•Writes Bishop Okonkwo, asks him to modify position
•Wants Nigerians to choose between democracy and political Islam
By Sam Eyoboka
THE Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN) has written a letter to the Presiding Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM), Dr. Mike Okonkwo, asking him to modify his position on Igbo presidency in 2023, just as it is throwing its weight behind a presidential hopeful from the South-East.
Following the interview Okonkwo granted Sunday Vanguard as part of his 76th birthday where he spoke extensively on Igbo presidency in 2023, the socio-politico wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) hoped an Igbo man or woman will be Nigeria’s next President “and we are presenting Mazi Samuel Ohuabunwa as our preferred candidate”.
“It is the hope of CSMN that Nigerians will also adopt him as we are sure he will make a good President of Nigeria after President Muhammadu Buhari”, the group said in the letter signed by Elder Solomon Asemota (SAN).
It is also convinced that making conflict of ideologies of political Islam (Islamism) in competition with democracy an issue, Nigerians will be able to agree on one, not both ideologies that had hindered Nigeria’s progress since independence.
The group, which parades the Prelate Emeritus (Dr.) Sunday C. Mbang; Cardinal John Onaiyekan; Bishop (Dr.) Mike Okonkwo; Archbishop Emeritus (Dr.) Patrick Ekpu; Archbishop (Dr.) Anthony Obinna; Asemota; Rev. Jesse Adamu; Professor Joseph A.M. Otubu; and Mrs. I. H. Ize Iyamu as Trustees, invited Christians with flair for politics and calling for governance to participate in CSMN (activities) in order to mobilize and organize for effective participation in providing Godly leadership for Nigeria.
The group quoted Okonkwo in the Sunday Vanguard interview as saying: “To the best of my knowledge, Easterners are not asking for anything other than live and let’s live. They are not saying, ‘give us everything’. “To be honest, I am not in agreement with any Easterner saying ‘it’s time for us to be President’.
“You shouldn’t beg to be President. If it’s going to be a case of making you President so that you can be appeased, that is stupidity; I don’t want that.
“You are Nigerians; you have equal right to everything that every other person in Nigeria has. So, it’s not a matter of being appeased. In fact, I don’t even want any Easterner under this situation to be President because he will fail. The present system can never allow you to succeed. “That is why we have to look at the system. The other day, somebody was boasting that they have the largest number and, therefore, they are the ones that will determine who rules the country.
“What type of audacity is that? What type of audacity will make you to be saying that you are going to lord it over the entire nation? It’s unacceptable.
“My ideal leader should be devoid of ethnic, tribal and party sentiments. He must see Nigeria as his constituency. If we are still going to have the situation where people are tied and bound by ethnic sentiments, then nothing will change.
“Some people got upset with me at a time when I said that I don’t care whether the person is a Christian or not. They wondered why I shouldn’t say that ‘we need a Christian or a Pastor as President. I told them that I will not say so because there is no guarantee that because someone is a Christian President he will deliver the dividends.
“I want somebody who can deliver to Nigerians dividends of democracy. Why do we have present agitations? If our schools are good, if our roads are good, if the economy is thriving and everything is working, would any one complain about who is leading? If you see somebody who knows how to service your car, would you ask whether he is a Muslim or Christian?”
To this, CSMN cited some essays and letters it wrote on why Nigerians should opt for an Nd’igbo presidential candidate come 2023.
According to the group, they include ‘The Ways of The Islamists (Not Islam) and Nigeria’ dated August 12, 2021, ‘Letter to Anglican Bishop of Jos, Most Rev. Dr. B. A. Kwashi’, September 4, 2021 and ‘The Convener [Duplication of Efforts]’ dated September 2, 2021 ‘v. Sacred Space’.
From the documents, it said, the following conclusion, among others, could be drawn:
a. That there is a difference between Islam as a religion and political Islam or Islamism;
b. That most Christians in Nigeria are tied to the apron-string of Islamist patrons. This explains the lethargy in the face of provocations;
c. Since independence in 1960, the Islamists in Nigeria as patrons are able to appoint Christian surrogates to support and defend Islamism not Islam so as not to be accused of Islamophobia;
d. The British in all the conferences that led to independence, prepared Nigeria for liberal democracy and presidential system in particular not political Islam or Islamism developed by the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt;
e. That the tripod Hausa/Fulani, Nd’igbo and Yoruba that were supposed to assimilate 386 other ethnic nationalities of Nigeria have failed. Rather the indigenes of Nigeria should be encouraged to promote political parties for the two contending ideologies – Democracy and Sharia;
f. The question of sacred space in Sharia seems to operate side-by-side with the Land Use Act. The Southern Governors derive their authority over land from the Act and the Constitution while the Miyetti Allah rely on sacred space for their claim to all land in Nigeria; and
g. The sum total of a to g above is that these are some of the reasons why Nigeria is presently not at par with India, Malaysia, etc. Was it deliberate? An Nd’igbo president should be able to find out.
h. It is clear that Nigeria has let down the black race but, like the rise and fall of empires, Nigeria will rise again.
CSMN, the letter to the TREM Bishop said, which is yet to unbundle its own political candidate publicly before now, wants the former PFN chief helmsman to amend his thoughts on this issue and campaign for Mazi Samuel Ohuabunwa, OFR, the incumbent President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria as presidential candidate come 2023.
“The CSMN finds Your Lordship’s view opposite to the views of CSMN of which Your Lordship is a member of the Board of Trustees since inception”, the group argued.
“The objective of this letter therefore is to provide information that will make the former PFN helmsman not only to change his mind but also to support the Governing Council of CSMN’s nomination of Mazi Samuel Ohuabunwa as presidential candidate come 2023.
“In the said Sunday Vanguard’s publication titled ‘Bishop Okonkwo at 76: IPOB, Yoruba nation, N-Delta fears about Nigeria can’t be swept under carpet’, you were against appeasement but in the view of CSMN, zoning presidency to Nd’igbo is not an appeasement but an affirmative action – a policy that aims to increase opportunities of all parts of the Nigerian society by taking into consideration deficit in opportunity such as Igbo presidency.
“Section 6 of the 1999 Constitution provides that for any person to be President, he must have not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two thirds of all the States in the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, but where the only candidates fails to be elected in accordance with this Section, then there shall be fresh nominations. This affirmative action is to ensure that minorities are not left out.
“Affirmative action was the basis for amalgamation in 1914, in that, of the two Nigerias, one was land locked (poor), the other had coastline (rich), the coastline was to develop the hinterland.
“This, the coastline did over the years during colonial rule and the years after to this day 2021.
“Zoning is also a matter of fairness and equity recognized in Common Law jurisdiction including Nigeria (but) rejected by Sharia”.
On the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), CSMN agrees with Okonkwo with respect to “sit at home”.
It stressed, “Your Lordship explained that people sit at home because they are afraid that IPoB will threaten them. This is in addition to the fact that the state governments have not played their role and the people have lost confidence in the Government”.